Inflammation in the body is linked to all kinds of diseases and long-term health troubles - but how can you know if you’re suffering from it? Dietician Susan Dopart, author of "A Recipe for Life", explains what causes inflammation and how to reduce it.
What is Inflammation?
We know what happens when you sprain your ankle or hurt part of the body - it becomes inflamed and swollen. But there are also things that go on inside the body that the naked eye can’t see, and this is known as internal inflammation.
Most people think nothing happens internally when you eat something that is harmful. However, even one fast food meal can trigger inflammation. For example, if you age a fast food hamburger, fries and a cola, here’s what would happen:
1. Insulin levels rise to accommodate high glucose levels.
2. Levels of trans fat in your blood can trigger free radicals or oxygenation (i.e, rust on an old car or an apple turning brown) and constriction of your blood vessels.
These changes are short-lived and can be turned around with a healthy meal, but if you consume this type of meal day after day, internal inflammation eventually starts to cause health issues.
What are some of the long-term effects of inflammation in the body?
Inflammation is manifested in many forms, and triggers health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, fatty liver, diabetes, cancer, gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) and arthritis. We’re now thinking at a lot of preventable issues stem from low-grade inflammation over time. For example, insulin resistance and diabetes are considered a state of low level internal inflammation.
Are there any symptoms of inflammation that you can watch for?
We actually think it’s more silent. When people are pre-diabetic and their blood sugars are rising, they don’t really feel anything until there’s an issue. It is possible that you might feel tired or sluggish, or that you don’t feel quite right, but it’s tough to pinpoint.
Can inflammation be measured?
A blood test used to measure inflammation in the body is c-reactive protein. When the body is experiencing infection and/or stress, inflammation is high and c-reactive protein is elevated. It can also be elevated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A measure of greater than 3 puts someone in the higher risk category than having levels below 3.
What kinds of things do we consume that contribute to inflammation in the body?
People need to eat a clean diet, which means hormone-free, pesticide-free, free-range, grass-fed, non-GMO and organic. When you eat the opposite of that, you introduce your body to more inflammation.
Are there certain things we can eat to fight inflammation?
Omega-3 fats fight inflammation, and there are three different kinds: ALA, DHA and EPA.
ALA is found in ground flaxseed; it’s a type of Omega-3 that consumes bad hormones in the body. DHA and EPA are found in fish oil. There are also multiple spices that lower inflammation, including ginger and cumin.
If you could offer any dietary advice, what would it be?
First, including Omega-3’s is very important. Second, get your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables and organic dairy, and stay away from processed, starchy carbohydrates because chips, cookies, breads, pastas, white rice and cereals are some of the biggest triggers of inflammation. And third, lower your intake of Omega-6 oils and trans fats, which also increase inflammation.
The Wizard of Herbs says see:
Flax Seed Oil